“God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” Psalm 68:6
I am grateful for the time God has given us to see some of our many loved ones. I just can’t describe how much you all mean to us. Our family, dear friends, partners, and fellow servants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we love you and words can’t describe what a blessing it is to interact with each one of you and we can’t wait to see those of you whom we have not yet met with. God has truly made a home for us.
We started off our furlough at my parents house in Colorado, doing things we haven’t done in so long: Walmart runs, doctors appointments, meeting with supporters, and buying winter coats (who would have thought there would be snow the last week of August?). After we were given the go-ahead by Noelle’s doctor, we set our GPS for Oregon and started our West-side road trip. Every place we stopped was a wonderful time of encouragement. We stayed 2 weeks with my sister and brother-in-law, who had just had their 3rd baby girl. This was very special for our whole family as this was the first chance we’ve had to see the house and property that the Lord had provided Anna and Jed after he lost his legs serving our country in Afghanistan, nearly 10 years ago. It was a blessing to see the the Spirit at work in all of us as we were mutually encouraged and strengthened. We then finished out the month by visiting Yosemite National Park to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary!
Furlough has also provided a great time for me to further my Biblical education. I am currently taking classes to study the history of Israel, and to learn how to read and write in ancient Hebrew! We thank God for this amazing opportunity!
“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” Micah 7:7
August was a month of change and transition from the LORD, both for Terebinth Ministries and for our family.
Like every other entity, our ministry has been trying to navigate the Covid crisis. When the lock-down started on March 30th, schools were closed down along with businesses, churches, government offices, and the like. And of course, the Terebinth School of Discipleship was temporarily closed. We had expected for the schools to open up by harvest time (Jul-Aug), but when it became evident that the reopening was going to delay, we decided as a team to find alternatives to our regular classes. With prayer and counsel, our leadership decided to start running a temporary alternative class style. Because of restrictions against meeting in large groups, we have divided our class up into 6 small groups, at different locations and at different times. Each student is given the student handbook a week in advance of their meeting to prepare them for the main points, the small groups meet for 2 days and watch a prerecorded teaching on the book being studied. They are guided by 2 teachers to further understand the content of the book, and then tested. We eagerly await our normal class style, but we are thankful for the ability to continue engaging the minds of our pastors in the meantime.
As we have expressed before, this is also a season of exciting change for our medical clinic, “Dream Center Uganda Health Center III”. Since its opening in 2012, the clinic has survived many problems, and when Terebinth Ministries took it over in 2017, there were crippling tax debts, no policies, no documentation, deep-seated community relations’ issues and very few patients coming through the doors. Since that time, the numbers have increased drastically; the care is superior to other health centers in the area, the reputation has come a long way to being restored and the records keeping is maintained at a high standard. We have worked to balance affordable care with quality care. However, to date, the clinic is still running at a deficit, and unfortunately our prices are still too high. As a leadership team we have come to understand that we have gone as far with the clinic as we are able, and that in order to reach higher we need help. With that in mind we have partnered with another ministry which is successfully operating 26 clinics here in the North. The doors of the clinic were officially closed August 26th, and will be reopened under their management on the 1st of October. With their connections, resources, and tested expertise, we know that the community is in good hands and that their future is bright! The clinic will be run with higher quality, lower prices for the community, and with less deficit.
The last change we want to share with you is of our arrival in the USA. In July we had announced our plans to visit America, and since then it has been a rush of events as we organized our home, packed a few bags, and even had 1 cancelled flight and a delay of almost 2 weeks before reaching Colorado. Now here we are, trying to re-integrate and navigate this “new” America with all of it’s challenges. We are very thankful to be with our family, and to have the opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by our faithful partners and friends. We look forward to the next few months as we share with you all, see faces both new and known, and await the arrival of the new baby.
Here are a few things we would love for you to pray for, if you would take a moment:
For the pastoral school as they continue in a new, supplementary way. That the teachers would be dedicated to discipleship, and that the students would have hearts and minds ready to receive.
For the medical clinic and our community, as they change to the new medical management. Pray that there would be peace, and that it would be seen as a blessing early on in the transition.
Pray for our family as we face so many changes, from culture and diet to time zones and the new social aspects. Pray for peace, health, and wisdom for us in this new environment.
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High. To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night… For you, O Lord have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.” Psalm 92: 1-2,4.
This COVID season has brought about poverty and hunger here in Uganda. Because of the temporary shut down of businesses and schools, we can see the effects of the declined economy everywhere we look. People are getting thinner and thinner. There is also a spiritual poverty that came with the shut down of churches, and people are getting dryer and dryer. But God is on the move bringing provision to the desperate and giving a tremendous hunger for Himself during these trying times.
July 31st marked the end of our food distribution program. Our team at BAM (Business As Mission) Enterprises had been working literally day and night to produce the quantity of food that was being given at our distribution points. For the last 4 months, we have had volunteers handing out food to people pre-approved by the local government. Each food package consisted of more than 30lbs of food, and everyone who received the package also had the Gospel preached to them. By the hand of God, and by your support, we managed to feed more than 60,000 desperate people! And so many people were getting saved that it became difficult to keep track of! During that same time, we were also distributing food to our in-patients, and we had certain medicines at discounted prices at our clinic.
We have also seen the effects spiritually. I have seen the results of increased domestic abuse and have personally stopped 2 cases of violence. Suicide and teen pregnancy are on the rise, and hopelessness is through the roof. But God is good and His Word has still been going out through tiny fellowships for these last 4 months. I want to share a testimony of what God is doing through the fellowships in our own home…
A few weeks ago two teenage boys from our village were led to our house by a good friend of mine to fellowship with us. They quickly told me that God had been convicting them of their sinful lifestyles and that they wanted to repent and be saved. After they had gotten saved and we had ended the service, one of them asked if we could preach at his home the following week, and that his family was also ready to get saved. When the next weekend came, one of those teenagers brought another of his friends to pray with us and he also got saved. After finishing the fellowships at our house that day we went to the first boy’s home and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. By the grace of God, almost the whole family came to salvation. This week another of our neighbors brought my family to visit her family home in a neighboring village. As her family gathered (nearly 30 people), we quickly saw that they too were in desperate need of hearing the Gospel. So I asked them to find a translator for us. We walked them through John 3:16-20, and our neighbor, her mother, her sister, her brother and her mother in law (the local witch doctor) all repented and believed. We left them with instructions to be meeting together to read the Bible and pray, and also to reach out to the other family members in love and patience. And now we are awaiting this coming Wednesday, to honor the invitation to preach the gospel at that third boy’s home.
Please pray for us as we are trying to prepare for our furlough, and as we continue to proclaim the Gospel. Pray for those ones who were saved, that they would grow even during this time of little church direction, and also for their families.
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the Gospel from the first day until now.” Phil 1:3-4
We are so grateful for your partnership in the Gospel with our family. We have relied on your prayers for our strength and we have been blessed by your support. May God richly bless you for what has been accomplished here because of you.
I am writing to inform you of the exciting news that we are heading stateside for a furloughand we want to meet with you face to face, to hear from you, share with you and join with you in personal prayer. We had planned to schedule a furlough in 2022 but it has become obvious that this will be the best time.
– Because of the COVID-19 situation our pastoral school has been closed down along with all the other learning institutions in the country of Uganda. And it doesn’t look like it will resume before 2021. This will give us the freedom to come home without being very missed here.
– By the grace of God we have found a wonderful ministry whose passion is for excellent sustainable Christ-centered health care. This group will soon take over the management of the Dream Center Uganda Health Center III. Both taking it to the next level and further freeing my family to enjoy a rest in the US.
– We are also looking forward to the birth of our 4th child at the end of October and we see it will be best to receive him/her into the world stateside.
– Finally, the next Ugandan presidential elections will take place early next year and we are expecting it to come with turmoil and unrest.
Due to the nature of foreign travel at this time, the exact dates of our departure FROM Uganda and our return TO Uganda are not yet set in stone. Bellow is a tentative Itinerary for our time in your half of the world. Please keep in mind that plans are subject to change, and that these are only estimations. Look over it and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with details for when we can get together as soon as possible to better insure our time together.
Colorado: Aug 14th – Sep 10th, Oct 14th – Nov 20th
Medford: Sep 13th – 27th
Los Angeles: Sep 30th – Oct 4th
Tecate: Oct 5th – 12th
Kansas: Nov 20th – 30th
Nebraska: Dec 1st – Jan 10th
We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in person very soon!
“Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man , it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to my house from which I came”; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.” Matt 12:43-45a.
This month I feel it would be good to share a testimony about a family that God delivered at our medical clinic. It is not uncommon for God to show up in miraculous ways like this, but because we have a full-time chaplain I am not always present to witness the miracles myself.
On a Monday toward the beginning of June, I was leading the clinic through Proverbs 31 in our morning devotions. When I was close to wrapping up, one of our patients (who I will call Jenny) came down the hall toward us, slithering like a snake, and then stopped just outside of our gathering. Jenny had been admitted three days before for severe malaria and her husband was also admitted with us because he had been bitten by a cobra. When we had finished our closing prayer, I knelt down in front of her to talk to her but found her completely unconscious. After placing Jenny in a wheelchair and laying her in her room, we decided to sing and pray over her. As the name of Jesus was sung, her unconscious body began convulsing and attempting to slither away from my friend and me. We prayed over her for ten to twenty minutes, and when we commanded the demons to leave her she opened her eyes and sat up wondering where she was and how she had gotten there. That day our team spent hours sharing with her and her husband, and she shared that the demons had taken up residence in her body back in 2014.
The next day I was invited back into our ward by a friend to come to lead to the Lord an elderly couple whom he had been sharing with the night before. As we came close, we saw Jenny collapse to the ground just outside of the Patients Kitchen. We then followed the same procedure as the day before, and again she started convulsing and trying to flee whenever she heard the name of the Lord. But God prevailed again, and within 40 minutes she was delivered. My friend and I shared the Gospel with her but in her state of stupor, Jenny didn’t give her life to the Lord. However, by the grace of God, many of our other patients had come to watch and we took the opportunity to gather them in the adjacent room and preach the Gospel. The elderly couple whom we had originally come for surrendered their lives to Jesus, and the other patients were encouraged.
That Saturday, at the request of Jenny’s husband, Luke Buescher and I organized a team from among our staff to travel to the family’s home (the next village over) and preach the Gospel. Our team was warned that this family was hostile to the Word and had been a hindrance to the previous outreaches in that area. But God had prepared their hearts, and for the most part, we found them ready to receive. By the end of our time there, many were freed from demonic oppression and a large number of the family, including Jenny, came to salvation!
“Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. Matt 12:29
“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom that we might present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Col 1:28
Not much has changed for our ministry this month as we are on week 11 of “lockdown” ministry. When lockdown started we had to switch our focus as a ministry from the pastoral training school, which was temporarily shut down, to relief aid and preaching Christ over the airwaves. We want to say thank you to everyone who has stepped up and donated during this time. The lockdown has been devastating and it is heartbreaking to see the suffering and starvation sweep through our communities, but it has been amazing to see God answer the needs of so many through the generosity of the global church body. As a ministry, we are providing families with over 10 tons of food per week. This means our churches are very busy blessing the communities through the handouts and our staff at BAM are very, very busy preparing the needed supplies, our machines never seem to shut down. We are blessed that along with the food packages we always have an opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and many people are being saved as they experience the great love that Christ has for them, including many women who’s desperation had led them to prostitution. And right now our pastoral team is being broadcasted over the East African airwaves 40 times a month. It has been great to see many come to Christ through the messages, understand the scriptures through the live call-in times, and have the hope of Christ brought to them through the times of prayer. Thank you for the great love you’ve shown through your generosity and prayers.
Our family is doing well, and we are pleased to announce that with the approval of our director and the local government, we have been accepted back into our community and have moved back home. This has brought back much needed stability and peace to us and our children and even to our neighbors. I have completely stepped back into my role over the clinic and at BAM. Noelle has enjoyed being back in our own space, homeschooling and doing small projects for the ministry. Please pray for us as we host 2 home churches over the weekends.
May God bless you and keep you during this difficult season,
“He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know me,” John 10:13-14
This month is a blur in my memory. Each day went by so slowly, but now looking back it’s as if no time passed at all. I myself (Noelle) left our two-room, temporary apartment only a few times, so my concept of time and days has become very skewed. But here we are at the beginning of a new month, and I hope I can share with you what God has been doing here in Gulu, Uganda, even though I have not been directly involved with almost any of it.
First of all, I praise God for His provision for us as a ministry. He has done so much to sustain us and allowed us to reach out in more “practical” ways during this difficult time. He opened doors so that we can continue giving food to those women in our widows program. He brought in funds so we can give food to many people who are in need. He enabled us to give deals on certain products at our grain facility to make things more affordable. He allowed us to give a daily portion of food to the patients staying in our medical clinic, and to lower the cost of malaria medications as people are low on cash in these days.
Due to restrictions during the lock-down, we are blessed to partner with the local government to distribute food packages. People go to their local leader to be vetted before receiving a voucher for food supplies. They can then go to one of the 2 Calvary Chapels in the city and receive amounts of rice, oil, and beans, which are supplied by our grain facility. With all of this, along with the current radio ministry we are able to do, we are making a lot of relationships with those in the local government and also gaining a lot of publicity. Please pray for these MANY opportunities to share the hope of Christ to be fruitful!
Because the limit of how many people can meet together is only 5, the 2 Calvary churches we are closely connected with have been doing home fellowships. Each fellowship is lead by different leaders in the church, whether they are leading only their family or a few small fellowships throughout the day. Between the 2 Calvary’s, there are more than 60 home fellowships, who are currently going through either the book of Daniel, or through the I Am statements of Christ, depending on which church they normally attend. It is exciting to see so many believers staying faithful and even growing into leaders during this time. Pray for these leaders, that they would continue to grow in the knowledge of Christ, and be bold in preaching the gospel in truth.
For our family, by God’s grace we decided not to waste this time of separation from normal work and life, but to get ourselves more on track physically and spiritually. Physically we had been at a lower point than we would have liked to believe, but getting rushed out of our home and normal groove helped us to “restart” in a way. A new meal plan and changes in diet, and daily exercise for both me and Matt, have really helped us start feeling better in general. The extra time for Matt to be able to sit and read the Word has been a real encouragement. He was even able to attend the online Men’s conference put on by our church in CO and two other Calvary’s.
For all the provision he is giving those in need.
For the faithful worship of Christ through home churches.
For our family’s health.
For wisdom as we seek to meet physical needs right now.
That our “small church” leaders are equipped to faithfully handle the Word.
“The King will answer and say to them, “truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”” Matt 25:40
Every human being has been created uniquely by God in His own image. God defined the value of every human being with the shedding of His Son’s blood. Yet I still find myself assessing people to decide wether or not they are worthy of my love, my time or my consideration. It’s easy to look at an oncoming person in a crowd and decide that their grumpy attitude, or their prideful demeanor, disqualify them from a good interaction with me. We practice reactionary kindness. We practice reactionary grace. We practice reactionary love. I will bless and welcome you in a way that is directly corespondent to my assessment of your character. We find ourselves loving those that love us and hating those that hate us. Yet what greater reason could I have for being kind to someone than knowing that they bear the image of my creator. What greater value is possible to have than the worth of Jesus Christ’s own blood. Who am I to place a standard of worth higher than that. My kindness, grace and love should not be a reaction to an individual directly but a reaction to the value God has defined for human beings in the Gospel. We can love people before assessing wether they are worthy of it. The Gospel empowers us to show preemptive kindness.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Josh 1:9
I hope this letter finds you abiding in the strength and love of Jesus Christ our Savior,
As with all of you, and the rest of the world; this month has been a roller coaster for our family. We started the month in expectation of teaching our pastors the book of Jeremiah, for things to continue normally at the clinic and at BAM and to enjoy a visit from my parents at the end of the month. But it didn’t take long for all of that to change as the country of Uganda began preparing to battle the virus.
Concerning the school:
Earlier in the month President Museveni shut down all schools in Uganda for 30 days or until further notice. In obedience to our authorities we have postponed the Jeremiah/Lamentations class until the schools re-open. Our team is taking this opportunity to get ahead on the development of curriculum.
Please pray: For God to give us wisdom to create the curriculum and to encourage our students.
Concerning the clinic:
We have bunkered down and prepared for any pandemic by stocking up on supplies and medicines as well as by putting our staff through various trainings on COVID-19. God has also helped give us the wisdom to create a separate “clinic” to care for any patients who have signs/symptoms of the virus so that they don’t mix with our pregnant mothers and our critical patients.
Please pray: For our staff to have courage and unity as they face what is coming. Unfortunately we have had 2 staff quit this month and we expect more to follow.
Concerning the Business As Mission Enterprise:
We are still alive and kicking at BAM, which is necessary now more than ever. We praise God that He gave our ministry the foresight to have a self sustainability project in place for such times as these. Right now the prices of produce in Uganda are raising drastically, but God has allowed us to maintain a steady, fair, and constant supply of food for our distressed district. Also, we are starting to work hand in hand with our local government to supply goods to quarantined people in our District.
Please pray: For the leadership of BAM to have strength and wisdom as they continue work under more and more stressful situations.
Concerning the Widows:
Recently the President has banned any gathering of more than 5 people for any event, eg: funerals, weddings, church etc. With that in mind we have altered our distributions so that the widows being cared for are separated into smaller and smaller groups as they continue being supported and encouraged.
Please pray: For these widows to find their peace in Jesus Christ now more than ever, as they are tempted by the tribal king to revive their worship of the Acholi gods.
Concerning our family:
Unfortunately because of bad rumors and threats, our family had to be relocated from the village to the city as we wait for things to calm down. We are very sad to leave our home and our ministry, but we know that God is in control and that the lessons He is teaching us will shape us into the servants we need to be.
Please Pray: for God to give our children peace as we resettle into our temporary living situation.
“The Lord sustains all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down.” Psalms 145:14
As you may know, our primary ministry here in Uganda is the biblical training of pastors at the Terebinth School of Discipleship. However, God has surrounded that ministry with a few other ways for our team to reach the Acholi people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A more recent addition has been the widows’ ministry. As we take our students through the whole of Scripture one of the themes we highlight is God’s heart for the widow and last year God opened the door for us to not only teach our pastors about His heart towards them but to partner with them practically. We train committees at our students’ churches and give them supplies to provide healthcare, food, discipleship, fellowship, and work to the widows in their areas. By God’s grace we’re hearing a lot of testimonies, and seeing a lot of families come to know the Lord because of this practical display of love. We even have a witch doctor enrolled in the program who is receiving discipleship. We hope and pray she responds to Christ soon. In the month of February, God opened the door to triple the number of widows in the program, and we pray that He will continue using this ministry mightily.
Close to one year ago I was placed as the Administrator over our medical clinic, which is another branch of Terebinth. The medical center has been used by God to reach the Acholi people in so many ways. In a month we can treat as many as 250 out-patients, care for 50+ in-patients, deliver more than 30 babies, and immunize 300-400 children. We see a lot of motorcycle accidents, snake bites, and cases of severe malaria. The spiritual atmosphere in our surrounding village is very dark, and we see several attempted suicides a month, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence. But we see that Jesus’ light is shining, as we open every day at the clinic with devotions with our staff and willing in-patients, and our chaplain who is a pastor who has graduated from our school who encourages, counsels, and prays with the patients even late into the night. God has used this position to stretch and grow me in a lot of ways but it’s not always easy. It’s been hard to see the harsh realities of life and death in the bush. And it’s hard to work so closely with a corrupt local government. We praise God for what He’s doing and what He will do with the clinic.
As a family we are doing well, as we await the arrival of my parents, who will be staying with us for the month of April. We miss all of you, and we pray that God would give us better communication skills to keep in better contact with you.
that He healed our pastor of his stage-4 cancer.
That we were able to trade in our van for a 4 wheel drive vehicle that can better manage the roads surrounding our village.
That Luke is back and well! Thank you for your prayers concerning his health, we are happy to have him back in Uganda.
for me (Matt), to have wisdom in leading the medical clinic
For favor in the eyes of the local government as I look for grants and programs to help offset the cost of the medical center.
That our pastors would grow in their theology of suffering as they look at the book of Job this week.
That God shines the light of the Gospel into our community through the local church and empowers us with the Holy Spirit to proclaim His word.